Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi left Wednesday evening for Hanoi to attend the fifth biennial summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting and to meet with his French and Vietnamese counterparts.

During the three-day summit, Koizumi plans to seek Asian and European support for Japan’s bid to get a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. He will also provide updates on Japan’s bilateral talks with North Korea on the abduction issue.

“Japan will work with Vietnam, the chair nation, to make it a successful meeting,” Koizumi told reporters prior to his departure from Tokyo.

The prime minister will also seek to reinvigorate the ASEM process, mired in a dispute between Asia and Europe over the accession of military-ruled Myanmar, and will address the issue of further enlarging the group, Foreign Ministry officials said.

ASEM, set up in 1996 by 10 Asian nations and the then 15 members of the European Union, will see its first enlargement at the upcoming summit, accepting the 10 new EU members and the three relatively new members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Planned meetings of finance and economic ministers have been canceled due to Europe’s reluctance to allow Myanmar to join, but the two sides have reached an agreement to admit the country on condition it is represented by a lower-level official at the summit.

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